You won’t need a Passport to Fly Domestically Next Year (REAL ID)
Clarification: The first version of this post was not entirely accurate. While all states are either in compliance or have received an extension to REAL ID, many of the extensions are only good through October 2017. It is expected that the Department of Homeland Security will extend those as necessary through 2020.
Real ID is a topic that keeps popping up everywhere. The Real ID act was passed by Congress in 2005, as a counterterrorism measure to improve personal identification. The part that impacts travelers, is the requirement that all states have their Driver’s Licenses or other forms of ID comply with REAL ID by January 2018.
This is where it gets confusing. There are several states which currently do not have their Driver’s Licenses compliant with the REAL ID act. There is a lot of misinformation that travelers would need a passport to travel domestically in the United States in 2018. The good news is all non-compliant states have been granted an extension, but the bad news is many of those expire in October 2017 (click on the map below).
It is expected that the Department of Homeland Security will give additional extensions as necessary. You will most likely not need a passport to travel anywhere within the United States after January 2018. You will of course still need a passport for international travel.
I live in Minnesota, a state which has been granted an extension through October 2017 from REAL ID. It is likely to be extended again to avert a disaster come January 2018. Could the extensions still be rejected? There is always a possibility. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.